Examine the Scriptures Like a Berean | August 3rd, 2023

During the 1970s, our family attended a wonderful, God-honoring church called Berean Bible in Spokane, Washington. We worshipped the Lord together on Sunday mornings and I was also there on Wednesday nights for their AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) program. The purpose for AWANA was to help kids memorize Bible verses in a fun and motivating way. I have many great memories of making new friends, winning lots of prizes, awards, a week at Scholarship Camp, and even a giant trophy for memorizing so many verses! On the front of the trophy was stamped 2 Timothy 2:15, the verse that defines AWANA:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

Although I didn’t even know the meaning, the desire to be a “Berean” was ingrained in me from a very early age. It comes from the passage in Acts about Paul and Silas’ visit to Berea, located in northern Greece:

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. Acts 17:10-12

The Character of a Berean

These Bereans are described as being of “more noble” character because, unlike those in Thessalonica, they received Paul’s message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to make sure that what Paul taught was true. They didn’t believe Paul’s teachings based on his charisma, being a great speaker, or a trustworthy friend. Rather, they believed because of their passion to search the Scriptures to prove what he said was true.

Their character was also considered more noble than the unbelieving Thessalonians because of their desire to listen, be teachable, and have the humility to accept correction.

This passage tells us they gathered daily in the synagogue to examine the Scriptures through public reading as they did not have their own Bibles. At this time, there were only Old Testament texts available for them to read.

Examine comes from the Greek word anakrino which translates: “to scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, determine, ask, question, discern, search, judge.”

The Bereans had such a high view of Scripture that they made it their daily pursuit to search for truth. Through disciplined study and becoming very familiar with the Word of God, they believed Paul’s gospel message that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who had to suffer and rise again from the dead.

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3

Discern the Truth

Like the Bereans, we are also to test and examine the things we hear through the lens of Scripture and reject anything that conflicts with it. All that opposes God’s Word is a lie. To believe false doctrine is to call God a liar. Just because someone is a pastor or has a seminary degree with thousands of social media followers does not mean what you are hearing come out of their mouth is biblical. God’s Word is our authority. This is why it is so important to be a good Berean! 

Test all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

False teachers and false doctrine are not new. They have been around since the very beginning of the Church. Because it was such an issue then, just as it is now, every book of the New Testament (except Philemon) tackles it! 

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. 2 Peter 2:1-3a

My mother used to express to me the importance of studying, meditating, and memorizing God’s Word. She would tell me that if I hide it in my heart, it will come back to my mind when I need it most. If we do this consistently, it becomes such a part of our thinking that whenever we hear teaching, we can quickly do a mental comparison to the Scriptures and discern whether it’s truth or lies. If the teaching lines up with what the Bible teaches, we should be like those Bereans and “receive the message with great eagerness.” And if it doesn’t line up, throw it out. 

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11

God’s Word is Infallible and Inerrant

I once had someone who claimed to be a Christian tell me they did not believe God’s Word was infallible (incapable of making a mistake; trustworthy) or inerrant (the absence of any error). Although a total shock to me at the time (and I’m sure my face showed it), I have noticed this is becoming more and more of a trend with “Bible-believing” Christians who do not accept the idea that the entire Bible is free from error. And the statistics prove it:

Although most Americans (68%) still consider themselves to be Christians, only 6% have a biblical worldview and just 37% of Christian pastors in the U.S. have a biblical worldview.

Study from American Worldview Inventory 2023 from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University 

Believing that God’s Word is not infallible or inerrant is completely contradictory to what He tells us in Scripture…

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All means all! Every word is God-breathed. As the Author, God has accurately and inerrantly revealed His truth to us by inspiring human authors through the Spirit of Truth to write His Word, the Bible. Inerrancy applies to the original texts which have been faithfully copied, translated, and passed down. The copies we possess are very accurate. 

God Does Not Lie

Truthfulness, one of God’s many attributes, makes it impossible for God to lie. Therefore, all of His knowledge and words are completely true. They are fully reliable and the final standard of truth. Who are we as fallible human beings to be the authority of Scripture, judging what is and what is not God’s Word? It is prideful and blasphemous to even think we should attempt this!

Denying the inerrancy of Scripture is denying that it was given by the inspiration of God, is God-breathed, and that every word is pure. 

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Proverbs 30:5

If God mixed truth with error in His Word, it would be impossible to determine which of it should be believed and which should be rejected. The trustworthiness of the Scriptures is fundamental to the Christian life and our hope in Jesus Christ as our Savior.

The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:160

Statement of Faith

It is common practice for churches and theological seminaries to have a statement of faith. If you are planning to attend a new church or take classes at a seminary, it is so important to know what they believe and where they stand, especially when it comes to how they view God’s Word, the foundation for our life as a believer. 

Preachers today are often more interested in adapting to the culture than speaking from an authoritative word. We are living in the age of tolerance where they have softened their message to keep from offending anyone. Even if they don’t outright oppose inerrancy, they become indifferent to it. Yet another good reason to be a Berean and know what you are being taught! If you want to know the truth about how to live in holiness, study the Word.

Here is an example of a statement of faith that is biblically solid from Dallas Theological Seminary which was founded in 1924:

“We believe that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” by which we understand the whole Bible is inspired in the sense that holy men of God “were moved by the Holy Spirit” to write the very words of Scripture. We believe that this divine inspiration extends equally and fully to all parts of the writings—historical, poetical, doctrinal, and prophetical—as appeared in the original manuscripts. We believe that the whole Bible in the originals is therefore without error. We believe that all the Scriptures center about the Lord Jesus Christ in His person and work in His first and second coming, and hence that no portion, even of the Old Testament, is properly read or understood until it leads to Him. We also believe that all the Scriptures were designed for our practical instruction.”

Now, here is a statement of faith illustrating the abandonment of solid doctrine from Fuller Theological Seminary founded in 1947. Its first doctrinal statement actually started out as biblically solid:

“The books which form the canon of the Old and New Testaments as originally given are plenarily inspired and free from all error in the whole and in the part. These books constitute the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”

In 1972, Fuller adopted a second doctrinal statement after a decade-long issue with inerrancy: 

“Scripture is an essential part and trustworthy record of this divine disclosure. All the books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, are the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” 

As you can see, their new doctrinal statement reflects the denial of inerrancy by omitting “free from all error in the whole and in the part.”

Spiritual Formation vs. True Transformation

You may think it’s a minor omission until you look a little further into what they now teach and promote. In 2015, they opened the Fuller Center for Spiritual Formation. 

The spiritual formation movement has found its way into many evangelical churches, colleges, and seminaries today. It moves away from the truth of God’s Word toward a mystical form of Christianity. It is based on the premise that if we practice certain spiritual disciplines such as silence and solitude, contemplative prayer, and Lectio Divina (traditional monastic practice of mantra prayer with scriptural reading) to name a few, we can be transformed by entering an altered realm of consciousness to bring us closer to God. Proponents of spiritual formation teach that no matter what a person’s belief is about God, they can practice these mystical rituals and find God within themselves. 

We know from studying the Scriptures that a truly transformed life comes from the power of God through the gospel message of Christ. It is not by our own works or in our own strength. When we acknowledge we are a sinner and need a Savior, believing in Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation, that begins the transformation process. We are renewed in our mind by the work of the Holy Spirit and no longer desire to conform to the ways of the world. Instead, we begin to live in a way that pleases God. It’s an inward transformation that is displayed in our outward actions. 

Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Practicing Being A Berean

What happens when you get away from believing in the inerrancy of God’s Word? You fall away from the truth and embrace false doctrine. It is shown in plain sight at the Fuller Center for Spiritual Formation. They offer a 5-course teaching series using several books written by “spiritual master” Henri Nouwen who was a Roman Catholic priest and deeply involved in contemplative mysticism. His involvement with mysticism led him to a form of universalism. Here are a few of his quotes. As good Bereans, let’s see what God’s Word says in response:

“For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.” (In the Name of Jesus, pp. 6,31,32)

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7

In his foreword to Thomas Ryan’s book Disciplines for Christian Living, Nouwen writes:

“The author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.” 

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; Proverbs 2:6

“The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.” (Here and Now, p. 22)

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. Romans 8:9

“Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.” (Sabbatical Journey, New York: Crossroad, 1998, p. 51)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

As you can see, the doctrine of biblical infallibility AND inerrancy is so important because it reflects the character of God, is foundational to our understanding of everything the Bible teaches, and leads us into knowledge of the truth. The Good News of the gospel itself is proof that not one word of God has failed.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Be a Berean and examine the Scriptures faithfully so you don’t fall for hidden deception that can creep in through false doctrine, an assault on the purity of God’s truth. And be sure to attend a gospel-preaching, God-honoring church that believes ALL Scripture is God-breathed, trustworthy, and without error so you can reverently worship the Lord with other believers in Spirit and in truth.

Kimberly Moore is a blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed and Kingdom Sparkle. To learn more, visit her website at kingdomsparkle.com.

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